By Kristie Kathryn Rusch (excerpt)
Getting the crime scene unit to a warehouse outside of the dome took more work than Ethan Broduer liked to do. Fortunately, he was a deputy coroner, which meant he couldn’t control the crime scene unit. Someone with more seniority had to handle requisitioning the right vehicle from the Police Department yards outside the dome, and making certain the team had the right equipment.
Broduer came to the warehouse via train. The ride was only five minutes long, but it made him nervous.
He was born inside the dome, and he hated leaving it for any reason at all, especially for a reason involving work. So much of his work had to do with temperature and conditions, and if the body had been in an airless environment at all, it had an impact on every aspect of his job.
He war relieved when he arrived at warehouse and learned that the body had never gone outside of an Earth Normal environment. However, he was annoyed to see that he would be working with Noelle DeRicci.
She was notoriously difficult and demanding, and often asked coroners to redo something or double-check their findings. She’d caught him in several mistakes, which he found embarrassing.
Then she had had the gall to tell him that he should probably double-check all of his work, considering its shoddy quality.
She stood next to a crate, the only one of thousands that was open. She was rumpled – she was always rumpled – and her curly black hair looked messier than usual.
When she saw him approach, she glared at him.
“Or, lucky me,” she said.
Broduer bit back a response. He’d been recording everything since he got off the train inside the warehouse’s private platform, and he didn’t want to show any animosity toward DeRicci on anything that might go to court.
“Just show me the body and I’ll get to work,” he said.
She raised her eyebrows at the word “work,” and she didn’t have to add anything to convey her meaning. She didn’t think Broduer worked at all.
“My biggest priority at the moment is an identification,” DeRicci said.
And his biggest priority was to do this investigation right. But he didn’t say that. Instead he looked at the dozen of crates spread out before him.
“Which one am I dealing with?” he asked, pleased that he could sound so calm in the face of her rudeness.
She placed a hand on the crate behind her. We was pleased to see that she wore gloves. He had worked with her partner Rayvon Lake before, and Lake had to be reminded to follow any kind of procedure.
But Broduer didn’t see Lake anywhere.
“Have you had cases involving the waste crates before?” DeRicci asked Broduer.
“No,” he said, not adding that he tried to pass anything outside the dome ont anyone else, “but I’ve heard about cases involving them. I guess it’s not that uncommon.”
“Hmm,” she said looking toward a room at the far end of the large warehouse. “And here I thought they were.”
Broduer was going to argue his point when he realized that DeRicci wan’t talking to him now. She was arguing with someone she had already spoken to.
“Can you get me information on that?” DeRicci asked Broduer.
He hated it when detectives wanted him to do their work for them. “It’s in the records.”
DeRicci made a low, growly sound, like he had irritaed her beyond measure.
So he decided to tewak her a bit more. “Just search for warehouses and recycling and crates -”
“I know,” she said. “I was hoping your office already had statistics.”
“I’m sure we do, Detective,” he said, moving past her, “but you want me to figure out what killed this poor creature, right? Not dig into old cases.”
“I think the old cases might be relevant,” she said.
He shrugged. He didn’t care what was or wasn’t relevant to her investigation. His priority was dealing with this body.
“Excuse me,” he said, and slipped on his favorite pair of gloves. Then he raised the lid on the crate.